After years operating out of an office in Ferguson, sharing space with Career Development, the offices of the Chaplaincy, Community Service and Intercultural Affairs have moved to their own dedicated building, purposefully named the Journey House, on frat row.
The move occurred due to a combination of availability and desires to expand programs on campus. Both the collective of programs associated with the Chaplaincy and Career Development have been expanding, so moving the chaplain’s office to its own space allowed room for all to grow.
“I liked the space, my staff liked the space, and we thought of it as an opportunity to create a wider and larger safe space for spiritual life, community service, and expanded space for intercultural affairs,” said Dan McQuown, college chaplain.
Over the summer, McQuown and his staff completed pages of to-do lists to ready their new house for the coming school year. Their tasks included boxing, labeling, and hauling their things over from Ferguson, installing new wiring for office computers and addressing security concerns.
“I think I got to know every single staff member in Facilities by name,” McQuown said. “It was a heck of a lot of work for everyone.”
But their worries extended beyond the labor required for the move.
“We were concerned about was that we just weren’t sure how students would react in terms of location, access, and how this area is seen, particularly by underrepresented students,” McQuown said. “We were also wondering how the fraternities would react.”
According to McQouwn, however, these concerns have thus far proven to be unfounded. Not only has the office entertained a multitude of students from various organizations, like Bridge and the Chapel Worship Leaders, but McQouwn says the fraternity houses have been great neighbors. His remaining concern is the fraternity brothers may think some secret motives underlie the Chaplaincy’s move.
“I value the culture and community that the fraternities create and don’t want to be seen as anything other than a neighbor,” McQuown said. “My biggest concern is that the fraternities feel like their space has been invaded. I’m hoping to make a dinner at each fraternity this semester, just to say hi, as a neighborly Midwestern thing…maybe bring a pie.”
According to Theodore Thompson, Oak Park, Ill., senior and the membership development chair of TKE, one of the houses directly adjacent to the Journey House, the chaplaincy’s move has merited little reaction in the house.
“To my knowledge, there has been no formal correspondence between our house and the Chaplaincy office, and we have not changed our habits as a result,” Thompson said in an email. “The biggest response within the house is curiosity as to why the move occurred.”
Allan Adair, Jackson senior and president of ATO, said that while they were not given any say in the matter of the Chaplaincy’s new residence, they have no problems with how things turned out.
“I haven’t really noticed any changes with them being here,” Adair said in an email. “I know that they have some plans for football games to watch with all the fraternity members. It is also good to see improvements being done to the house. No complaints at all from any of the brothers here at ATO. Most of us like the Chaplain’s office.”
Echoing Adair’s sentiment, McQuown thinks the fraternities and the Chaplaincy can not only coexist, but can even help one another. He wants the fraternity brothers to know the Journey House is completely open to them and their needs, just as it is for all Albion students.
“[Journey House has] created a great space for people to just be, which is why we like the [it],” McQuown said. “We don’t expect people to be in the same place—sometimes that’s religious, sometimes that’s spiritual, sometimes that’s just philosophical, sometimes it’s just cultural space and ethnic or sexual identity, sometimes that’s just your heart and passion for the city and the world—each journey is different.”
The Journey House is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and drop-ins are always welcome.
Photo by Travis Trombley